Thattumpurath Achuthan

What is the movie about? :: Achuthan (Kunchacko Boban) is a favourite of the villagers, and as a Krishna devotee, is close to the village temple and its committee. He has only good opinions about him in the village, and is considered to be someone who is more than just helpful to others. But one day, while trying to help his friend, he lands in trouble, and is branded a thief. The Sub Inspector of Police Justin John (Kalabhavan Shajohn) does let him go, but as he is branded in one way, things don’t go that much positive with him – his wedding ceremony is cancelled, and he also losses his job. With his best friend, he tries to have his revenge, but that also becomes another problem for him. His honesty remains under the shadow of doubt, but while reading a letter intended for Lord Krishna, everything changes for him, and becomes the first big twist in favour of him.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The letter is about a girl known by the name Jayalakshmi (Sravana), written by her mother Girija (Bindu Panicker). It is a request to Lord Krishna about saving her daughter from her former lover who keeps threatening her about a few photos and videos which they took together when they were in love. A few twists lead Achuthan to their house, and while hiding on the top of the house, decides to help them. But it is not that easy, as the person who is tormenting them is not the usual lover seeking her to be back with him – there is more to that person than what is known. With Jayalakshmi seeking to end her life, Achuthan has not more than a few days to work something out, or things will go beyond his control. Can the simple village man be good enough to outsmart this engineering graduate from a reputed college outside Kerala and bring hope to this family which has been hoping for a miracle for a long time?

The defence of Thattumpurath Achuthan :: There is strong feel-good factor in this movie, and there is also some magic realism to give it a little bit more as a special ingredient even though not at the best possible dose. Kunchacko Boban seems to be nicely suited to this role in more than one way, on many occasions. He has things working out in his favour all the time, and has the grand support that he need. It has a certain amount of magic realism in store too, as we see the presence of magic in the otherwise usual world. The movie has divinity in parts, and the dreams coming true forms the major part of it – the same also adds to the visuals in a beautiful way. There is also the reflection of certain foolish love which can be seen with the immaturity of the female lead’s character, coming right out of the college days. The movie also has a very nice ending to come, after a little struggle by the latter part.

The claws of flaw :: The music in the movie is a big let down, and it is irritating to see that it keeps coming again and again, even when we don’t need it at all – it is as if there is an attempt to prove something, or as if it is nice to have more songs in a flick like this. But having songs for the sake of having them, and not having them as good enough, won’t do a movie any good as you can see here too. Magic realism could have also been better used in this movie, and we know what the same can do, like we saw in the magical movie, Amen a long time ago. Even the Nandanam fun mode couldn’t be repeated in this movie, and neither could it have the Pranchiyettan and the Saint mode. There is the presence of exaggeration too, and a few things are rather too convenient. A lot more is often expected when there is a Lal Jose movie, and the Kunchacko Boban combination leaves more desired.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban leads the way here, as he has a role similar to that of his previous flick, Johny Johny Yes Appa. He has a family to save in this movie too, and goes under the name of a thief once again. He did the same role in Shikkari Shambhu, his best flick of the year. So, this role comes as no challenge to him, and the romantic side is here to serve him once again. A good-hearted man from village was perfectly shown by him in the movies like Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho and Jamna Pyari, and when we have him in such a role, there is the assurance that things will keep a minimum level. After Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum, Lal Jose – Kunchacko Boban combination is being brought back, and everyone was sure that it couldn’t be that bad. It is the trust in that combination that has been tested here, and has managed to work pretty well.

Further performers of the soul :: Sravana, a new face plays the role of heroine, but has very less to do here – she has less number of dialogues, but seems to be a talent for the future, as Lal Jose does find a new heroine each and every time. There is a long list of actors and actresses who are from the reality show Naayika Naayakan, among which I could identify Venkitesh, Meenakshi and Malavika. It is surprising that none of the so called websites specializing in Malayalam cinema or professional reviewers have given clear details about the cast, and it is something which we common movie viewers cannot find out without outside help. Johny Antony brings some fun while Nedumudi Venu is underused. Kalabhavan Shajohn also has his moments in this one, especially related to the comic side. Adish Praveen does a nice and cute job as the child with his dreams becoming reality.

How it finishes :: For the Christmas season, it seems that a certain amount of divinity is becoming part of the movies of the times, with no barriers among religions. As the Onam season never really had any celebration or release of new flicks, this is the season that could bring the best for Malayalam movie industry – note that the Pooja season also had to have an early harthal. So, even though the last movie of Lal Jose, Velipadinte Pusthakam couldn’t blend into the mood of 2017 Onam, this one, even though not during Onam has a part of Christmas in it. As a nicely suited movie for the family audience, Thattumpurath Achuthan has enough fuel to stay in the race until the end of the holidays this year and right into the next year. It only needs the family audience to have the power and keep it running. No matter how it turns out to be, I wish you a Merry Christmas.

Release date: 22nd December 2018
Running time: 142 minutes
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Sravana, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Hareesh Perumanna, Vijayaraghavan, Johny Antony, Nedumudi Venu, Seema G Nair, Meenakshi, Malavika Krishnadas, Veena Nair, Sethu Lakshmi, Irshad, Adish Praveen, Bindu Panicker, Biju Sopanam, Santhosh Keezhathoor, Thara Kalyan, Amina, R Vishva, Thejus Jyothi, Venkitesh VP, Roshan Ullas, Siddhi Vinayak, Kochupreman, Anil Murali

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Lal Bahadur Shastri

lalBS (2)

Vampire Owl :: You are going to watch another historical movie?

Vampire Bat :: No, this isn’t about India’s second Prime Minister.

Vampire Owl :: So, there is not even a Chief Minister in this one?

Vampire Bat :: No, not even an MLA. Its like Bal Gangadhar Tilak consists of Balan, Gangadharan and Thilakan; remember that old joke? So, this one should have Lal, Bahadhur and Shastri.

Vampire Owl :: Disrespectful indeed. I am not watching this.

Vampire Bat :: You have always been looking for an opportunity not to watch a Malayalam movie. So, that is a lame excuse.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, I need this excuse. You sit in there to study, and with the points noted down in the mind, you write them down as reviews. May be someone will valuate it someday and give you a job. Then, I can try not to be distracted and spend the rest of my life not watching movies and always planning to owlify the world.

Vampire Bat :: You don’t need more feel-good?

Vampire Owl :: No, such movies are too cute, plus I need feel-bad or feel-evil. I quit – may be until weekend.

Vampire Bat :: Take the route through the cemetery. Your zombie team is resting there counting the bones. You never really pay them for the work.

[Gets the ticket].

What is it about? :: The movie tells the story of three strangers, whose paths cross on an eventful day in the city of Cochin. All of them are from around Aleppey and meeting each other at Cochin. Lal (Jayasurya) is a simple man with a good heart, still looking for a job at the age around thirty, and travels to the city for the same reason. He is the one who acts as the narrator at times too. Bahadhur (Nedumudi Venu), a former panchayat president, is an alcohol addict with a weakness for women, but spends his time without bothering others. He goes to the city to visit his fellow alcoholic friend who is in the hospital. Shastri (Aju Varghese) is a young man in the farming field who has his own problems in life. He is in the city to get some of his papers passed from the agricultural office. The next significant character who arrives at the same city is Thaara (Sandra Simon) who works as a nurse at a hospital there. A lot of incidents happen following an accident, and by the interval, things get to revolve around a lottery ticket which becomes the major factor in solving all the problems.

The defence of Lal Bahadur Shastri :: Lal Bahadur Shastri makes its entrance into the feel-good genre and make it work. With its simple characters who are like those among the audience, the movie progresses in an interesting way, and keeps the audience interested. Never losing its flow, there is no boring moment here, even as this movie is more of a drama than anything else. The joints of the stories all also nicely done, and the characters fit in there quite nicely, with situations well managed. There are also some heart-touching moments, as the movie successfully manages its emotional side with the needed ingredients, and this achievement also has its cast to thank. The humour is also good, even as more could have been included. There is only hundred percent decent comedy in this one making it an even better choice for the family audience. There is also a light tone running throughout the movie, never letting things go out of control into the darker shades.

Claws of flaw :: Lal Bahadur Shastri follows a predictable path, even as there are little twists here and there. This idea of having different characters crossing their paths on one big day on a big city has been tried on a lot of occasions, including the critically acclaimed Traffic, its successor Friday, and even in Money Rathnam up-to an extent. The beginning is also kind of unnecessary showing Jayasurya’s character grow up – there was never a need, and is of no value to the story. The plot is not thick, as it depends too much on the creation of confusions, and the “just missed” moments which are recreated to bring the needed effects on the story-line. The scope for humour is not fully utilized, especially with Aju Varghese there (his character even talks about having twins nicely reflecting his real self to bring some nice humour). Those who don’t want to watch another feel-good movie with nice morality elements can skip this movie too.

Performers of the soul :: Jayasurya comes up with a controlled show here, as a character which has worked so well for him, like in Janapriyan and Apothecary; the good and simple man from the village has never been a role which was supposed to challenge someone like him who has been proving his versatility for sometime. Nedumudi Venu has a role similar to what he did in North 24 Kaatham, but here it is a character with more flaws. Aju Varghese is once again doing his job, but this one has less comic scenes for him. Sandra Simon has a very good presence in this movie, even as there is not much here to test her – but does well and lets welcome her to the Malayalam movie industry, wishing her best of luck for the future in this field. One would wonder if there is a show stealer in this movie, and it is Master Minon, who won the National and State film awards for the best child artist with his performance in 101 Chodyangal – when we think that the movie is going to be about the three main characters, this kid comes up in the second half, taking his simple first half presence to a new level. Kavitha Nair’s small role is very much notable too. We can also see Noby, Mala and Lakshmipriya in shorter, but memorable comedy roles.

Soul exploration :: The movie focuses on good people and how they are rewarded, despite going through troubles. It has the message that goodness will rarely go unnoticed, and this movie has so many things which seem to work against the reward, but it finally finds the way. There is also an assertion on the need to do the right thing when the time comes, not thinking about the benefits. If the divine will is on your favour, or may be if destiny is awaitings, good things tend to happen. It is a reassuring message given into a world of chaos, in a society where people rarely care about the other, and there are doubts about any divine intervention and the value for karma. This is why Lal Bahadur Shastri is a good effort, and at at time it is cool to be evil, when being good is not considered the fashion, this movie tells the viewers that it is to be done because it is the right thing. Well, how many people think about the same? The only thing people and media care about are things like people who want to kiss, people who want to watch kiss and people who want to stop kiss – when focus should be on something good or productive.

How it finishes :: Lal Bahadur Shastri is strong in the theatres due to the presence of Jayasurya and Aju Varghese. It is actually present in more theatres than one might have expected it to. A major problem should be with its name though, as it is almost impossible to feel that a movie with such a name would be interesting – no creativity in there; otherwise why would someone choose the name of a former Prime Minister of India, and there is the joke which is years old, taking Lal, Bahadhur and Shastri as three names which seems to have influenced the title. Are we short of good titles, and does it seem that each and everyone of them are used? I wouldn’t think so. Nevertheless, Lal Bahadur Shastri has enough power to impress the family audience, and anybody who wishes to have some feel-good experience will surely try to give this one a chance. That should be where this movie should be targetting and winning its battle in the process.

Release date: 21st November 2014
Running time: 110 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Rejishh Midhila
Starring: Jayasurya, Nedumudi Venu, Aju Varghese, Sandra Simon, Kavitha Nair, Adwaith Jayasurya, Lakshmipriya, Aiswarya Nath, Nandhu, Mala Aravindan, Master Minon, Noby Marcose

lalBS!

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Monkey Pen

monkeypen (2)

I can still remember looking at one of those advertisement boards set up for this movie on the side of the road. It was quite big and it made me wonder what it is actually about and what can it do with such a title which is strange but not weird for the new generation Malayalam movies. It was the time when I had just watched Captain Phillips, and I wondered what this title Philips and the Monkey Pen was about. Yes, it was strange indeed for a Malayalam movie – it did have the picture of a kid and Jayasurya who plays his father. Another poster had Remya Nambeesan and also Vijay Babu, there was one more which had Joy Mathew in it with them. Yet the question would remain what was it all about? There have been many pathetic children’s movies in this part of the world, none of which was close to being interesting, and now they have come up with a strange title too. But how did it turn out? Now thats a surprise, not just the regular one, but a cute, sweet and more interesting than any fake films which are projected as family movies. I now give you with something from the movie – “I thought the truth would pain you”; reply: “The truth isn’t bitter; its just that the lies are excessively sweet”.

So here you welcome the first real family movie of the year, and it is indeed what they have projected; the all generation movie of the age, and it is a shame that it had to be postponed for movies of other languages; Arrambam, and more tragically Krrish 3. If any movie is to be shifted for such a fake hero movie like Krrish 3, it shows how messed up our audience is. Let me tell you that I am glad to see the number of audience even for the morning show during a working day, and I am happy to see the response of the viewers. I would be surprised if it didn’t them in one way or the other, and the claps in the end signified the same. I can only hope that it won’t lose the battle and give up early to the bigger movies which are to come this weekend, Geethanjali, Thira and may be Salaam Kashmir, plus the movies from other languages about which we can’t be sure now. Well, it is the duty of all the good movie watchers to make movies like this success, instead of going for movies like Krrish 3, Besharam and Boss. Please do support this movie! Show it to your kids for sure.

I begin talking about this movie by introducing you to the antagonist, the evil villain who is the manifestation of the wretched demon from hell, Mephisto-maths, or rather Mathematics which lived in the capital of hell, Pandemonium before its arrival to Earth. Pardon my use of language, as I have been as much troubled by this third rate piece of junk known as Mathematics as much as our protagonist Ryan Philip (Master Sanoop). Without that subject, world would have been awesome, I know it and so does Ryan. He has started his battle in the fifth standard as he tries to find a way to find a way past his class teacher Pappan (Vijay Babu) who teaches the most loathed subject of the school. He is not alone in this battle against Satan Maths and his helpers, the Maths teacher and the Maths expert of the class. There are four of them in total, as they are the freaks of the class who come late in dirty clothes and fails to do the home work. They are always thinking about how to send this demon back to hell.

The first idea is to find a girlfriend who can help him in Maths, but as Ryan is not that much of a popular kid in the class and neither is he studious or good at sports, that doesn’t really work out. Ryan is the son of a Christian father Roy Philip (Jayasurya) and a Muslim mother Sameera Roy(Remya Nambeesan), and none of the families are in touch which the couple after they married against the wishes of their parents. The only contact they later come across is Richard Philip (Joy Mathew), Roy’s father and a former captain of a ship. It is from him that Ryan gets a pen called monkeypen which is said to have helped in achieving impossible things. For Ryan, there are not many impossible things which should be possible – as it is just about the bloodsucking monster from the other dimension, which has surrounded his life in a python form – the evil Mathematics. The story deals with how Ryan overcomes all the problems of his life which starts and ends with Anaconda Maths with the help of a pen. Well, there is no real supernatural or magic involved in this one, and don’t let such thoughts stop you. Meanwhile, did I feel shades of existentialism? I doubt that.

There are lots of lessons to be learnt from this movie, and it is more of a morality tale wearing the visage of a children’s story, and with its veneer of simple childhood talks and experiences, the movie explores themes like love, truth, faith and duty. But the movie rarely preaches, as it shows rather than try to teach; it inspires rather than try to put something on the viewers heads. On one side, it tells the story of a kid who is hoping to do well, but is a mannerless boy who doesn’t respect elders, comes late to the class in terrible uniform and obviously doesn’t want to study. With the disrespect to authority and the elders, he is a sample of the bad next generation which is to come with no respect for values and traditions. On the other side, it is the story of the change that faith, love and care from parents can bring upon children. Ryan’s transformation is the major theme of the story, and most of the questions of this age comes up within the same. As a whole, this is not just the story of Ryan, or it shouldn’t be so, as its goodness prevails. The other characters of the movie are not avoided too, and in that case, it is further interesting.

Master Sanoop plays the protagonist of the movie, the man with the monkeypen. His performance is something which has to be judged just by viewing and not by talking about it. The same can be said about the other kids too, from his partners in crime to his arch nemesis in studies as well as the one of unattainable love. Jayasurya makes an awesome father in this movie, and this is another one of different, yet fantastic performances. Almost the same can be said about Remya Nambeesan who plays the mother who herself is immatured to an extent, but stands for his son when in need. Joy Mathew doesn’t lag in his role but rather scores when needed, and Vijay Babu is very good as the teacher, one of the most dynamic characters in a children’s film. Innocent has a small role as the boy’s imaginary friend whom he calls God, and joins him in his pains and agonies, removing his doubts and making him confidence, and the wisdom from this divine one adds, but is underused and pales in comparison to the pen. It might remind us of the character of Saint Francis of Assisi in Pranchiyettan and the Saint, in a lesser manner. Mukesh’s Principal is funny, and well done. To add, there is the beauty of cinematography!

I was highly impressed by how the story-line progresses. I thought this was a children’s story and I might get disappointed, but wow! They even managed to put a background story to the legend of monkeypen with the records of the construction of Willingdon Island, the first man-made island in India. The scenes involving the pen and Sir Robert Bristow is brilliantly taken, with no scope for any questioning. There is some brilliant writing behind this one, there is indeed magic of some sort involved with this one rather than inside it. When nostalgia calls, I have wondered about the Maths side of this story, and thought if I could have loved Maths if I had better teachers? By the time I got to the end of eighth standard, I had almost completely hated the subject even as I scored well enough for the board exams, and finally lost touch with it intentionally due to my lack of interest. Then, how did my love for English Literature come up? That was due to two of the English teachers whom I admired – such is the story of most of us, as good teachers make students love their subjects and score better in most of the cases except for some who are beyond hope. Meanwhile, the name of the grandfather Richard Philip, captain of the ship – ring any bells? 😀

Release date: 7th November 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Rojin Philip, Shanil Muhammed
Starring: Master Sanoop, Jayasurya, Remya Nambeesan, Innocent, Joy Mathew, Mukesh, Vijay Babu

monkeypen copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.